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By STANLEY FISHER (1959)
Published in: Lurie, Boris; Krim, Seymour: NO!art, Cologne 1988
Art in the Fallout Shelter:
Art should be temporary. No substance beyond the rubbish of a bomb blast and beauty parlor. It must be hideous like a body crushed in aluminium. This inhuman condition must be seen from any makeshift morgue where human flesh consuming helicopters are now stored. These helicopters, created as an instrument of war, have made wars unnecessary. There is no longer any human flesh. It is now warhead against warhead, and torture machines that paint. They paint on the phallus of the helicopter, and the shorn teeth, gasoline stumps and a strange dentifrice or fuel called limp. I am the last artist. I was fortunate. I have necrophilic cravings. Although I am decapitated. I still find sexual organs in which to scavenge. The helicopters find me disgusting.
A terrible odor of eyesight rose from the horizon of heavy sedation. I was running from huddled asphyxiation that shed rivulets of bloodstained garments. Two or it might have been twin shrieks pinned me to a crucifixion of moist bodies. Suddenly everywhere there were sputtering, guttering demented corpses who were like six feet tall white of eggs, or the albumen of dirty eyes, burning crazily. One man, his clothing ripped into banners of black kerosene, exposed himself, and then crashed into the hood of a car, his flesh turning into shrapnel of hard leather. Nearby a rabid shadow, dazed from over-death, his head sheared but his blood white from shock, lurched into my arms, now frozen like lard under his reeking touch. I ran shrieking into the sea like a dark hallway, howling like a dog through my knee..
Moonlight through my bandages, I ran, mercurochrorne steaming from my fingers to the sheaths of skid rows on fire, into bedrooms of bones crushed like orangeade, to the shy sunflower of her stomach, squashed now like pomegranates, only half alive, to quell through her, my sheer and incandescent, mangled and bleeding rage.
A rouge brighter than lips. A warmth of crushing those who are your own, buried above each other, limbs and one had been hearts, and cruel black kerosene inside your ligaments, and fires inside your bones. The living, stumbling through piles of shrieks and weird ferris wheel of bodies. The bomb is in our beds, seeking refuge from its foulness. It is inscrutable, unfeeling, hard, aloof, contemptuous, and jealous. It is waiting inside its strange pill box of prurience, for a chance to engulf, to disseminate its death. And those who are as cold as the bomb, and as insane, plead for its egress. The living are its victims, your breath and living marrow and those desiring you, are food for its harsh and blackening kerosene brighter a hundred times than paid flame. A child is not an eggshell. A slut of bullet proof dreams....
There were white bodies that smelled of tar paper. One had his mouth ripped from his shoulder where it had smoldered like an ember. As he twitched, the sky was bleeding surgically. There was also a child, its body peeling a black enamel, and three hands of its parents stuck together like hot candles in its face. I saw her in a group huddled together like a rank nest of moist twigs. In the center there was a volcanic cry and an occasional larval scream. I had dragged myself with some improvised crutches into the aid room. The walls were scarred with gold teeth, zippers and hungry flies. A gold tooth and ivory button were imbedded in my painful stump. Zombie-like crowds began to howl for the sun which had disappeared in the human debris. They stumbled in, over the graves of almost flesh and been blood. There was no water, and their flesh fell from their bandages. I lunged blindly. My hunger was allayed by this strange and tasteless sandwich..
Something happened to my nose. It had been there, and now it was gone. Now, only a hole. And still I was shaving. The mirror shriveled and collapsed, like a centipede into the wash basin. I was in a raging consume of color, my body black against the light, except for parts of me that were gone. I tried to touch myself, but a smoking glove on the floor was all that was left of my crouching hand. I laughed and sat on the toilet seat. It was searing my hot flesh with an icy brand. I heard the zombies in the courtyard, dying, dreamy with perspiration and blood. It was through jagged windows that I walked to meet them, more glass than flesh, over chains of stained heads and others screaming from their eyes..
The sun drifted into the hardware store. It opened up cans of kerosene, cans of lubrication, sandstone and melting waterproof oils; stirred ingredients like smoke slithered into dark corners, exploding with an ethereal cry of bolts becoming cross-eyed and screws becoming popcorn. The plate glass window quivered and sizzled and coughed, wracked by unbelievable coats of white light. There were signs that chewed themselves and flash bulbs that melted over the cash register. Coins fell into heaps, sweating down the counter under flashes of molten chrome. The walls, dying of a fever, leaped from their death spasm and retched odd fluids on the floor. The store collapsed and sped towards the sewer, in a pasty conglomerate of boiling corpses and billboards. I walked past the scene trying to hold myself into what was now a shroud of flesh. The buildings toppled in slow motion over screams like candles burning in the debris. Flames began to trickle along a carpet of bodies that were petrifying and twisting hand over hand in a grisly wedding ceremony of charred skin. I had one thought ... water ... for my brain was stuck to my skull like desiccated paper and my mouth refused to open, except for a churning sound that dripped as from an empty faucet. Something terrible clawed my eyes, and shattered my lungs. The entire city fell from its body like a dried body from an amputated limb, and the reeking lungs and bowels and heads, ran towards the river, headed towards the boiling cobra of red sweat that was stained by crotches of children, headed for the final emancipation from their chewed and swollen bodies, for a final emasculation, for their death. I joined them ... screaming all the time.
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Stanley Fisher was a part of the New York "NO!art" Movement of the late 1950's-early 1960's. He was an agitator and a beatnik publisher at this time. His art work is mainly crudely collagistic in form, containing many newspaper clippings and iconic features: either of Marilyn Monroe or other celebs amidst lurid tabloid headlines. Invariably his work focussed on social issues of the time: civil rights, the rights of African-Americans, women and the growing perniciousness of American materialism. His work is privately owned, although there is one large scale collage in the Rockefeller Gallery. ►MORE